01.07.2011 At first hand

Editorial Martin Werner. In 2001, Parliament established a Gender Health Office within the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). In 2008, the «Gender and Health» focus report was published, containing precise core statements and recommendations, with the aim of promoting equal opportunities for both genders in terms of health and the quality of services. Men and women were to benefit from healthcare provision and health promotion services adequately suited to their biological and social gender. After twenty years of gender discussion, the fact that different needs and demands exist in this regard is nowadays almost entirely uncontested.

Pictures At first hand


Nevertheless, enthusiasm for gender health recently seems to be declining. For instance, women increasingly expect to be able to combine their work (or career) with family obligations, while this challenge is being made more and more difficult for men. Men are confronted with personal and societal expectations to take on a more pivotal role within the family than their fathers did. However, as work pressures also mount, the area that suffers is personal relaxation. This may seem almost stoic at first glance, but hard facts in the form of suicide rates and psychiatric inpatient statistics for men reveal the conse­quences.

The authorities – public wealth in general and especially public health – need to take action to turn the tide in worrying social developments of this nature. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco) and the Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) are setting a good example in the field of public wealth. Together, they have established an information platform on combining work and family obligations addressed to the business and political spheres and individuals. And what is happening with public health? In line with its current self-perception, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) is committed to its tasks in the area of gender health: «… the FOPH puts forward suggestions ... (for) … a coherent Swiss health policy … The FOPH does not allow itself to be manipulated by the various interest groups, but … (advocates) … a big-picture perspective»; the tasks of this health policy explicitly mention gender health (FOPH in Brief, 2011).

May these words be followed by actions – for the good of women and men alike.

Martin Werner
Prevention and Promotion Section
Federal Office of Public Health

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